Day One Hundred Eight: Sodom and Gomorrah, pp. 98-114

Part II, Chapter I, from "'What a strange look those two young men have!...'" to "'...Dreyfus rehabilitated and Picquart a colonel.'"
Charlus, "whose insolence was a gift of nature that he took delight in exercising," pretends not to know that the two young men he is pointing out to Mme. de Surgis as having "a strange look" and who are possibly "Orientals" or "Turks," are her own sons. She introduces them to him as Victurnien, the elder, and Arnulphe. Saint-Loup is amused by the scene because "my uncle hates gigolos." Charlus continues to tease the young men, commenting on how Victurnien's name is that of a Balzac character and pretending that both of them are familiar with Balzac's works. 

Swann joins the narrator and Saint-Loup, and strikes up a conversation about the Dreyfus Affair, assuming that both of them are still Dreyfusards. But Saint-Loup reveals that he has forsaken Dreyfusism, a consequence of his breakup with Rachel: "The whole affair began very badly, and I very much regret sticking my nose in. It had nothing to do with me. If I could start again, I'd keep well out of the way. I'm a soldier, and for the army above all." 

Charlus takes the narrator, who wants to stay and talk with Swann, away from that group into another room with Mme. de Surgis. The Baron cruelly insults Mme. de Saint-Euverte, who is within earshot, with "a triumphal diatribe of which the wretched Saint-Euverte, almost immobilized behind us, could hardly have lost a single word." He insults her appearance and even her odor, and calls her an "indefatigable old streetwalker." The narrator is "indignant" at the Baron's treatment of Mme. Saint-Euverte, but observes, "In society, alas, as in the world of politics, the victims are so cowardly that you cannot hold it against their executioners for long." And when Mme. Saint-Euverte comes up to him and asks how she has offended Charlus, then laughs "uproariously," the narrator reflects that "people who laugh so loudly at what they say when it is not funny thereby excuse us from joining in by taking all the hilarity on themselves." 

The narrator, wanting to get home because he's expecting Albertine, still seeks out Swann again, but finds that they have to get away from Charlus once more, now teasing the other de Surgis brother, Arnulphe, who talks "in a lisping voice that seemed to indicate that his mental development at least was incomplete." The narrator decides to ask Swann "whether what was said about M. de Charlus was true, in which I lied twice over, for, if I did not know whether anything had ever been said, I knew very well, on the other hand, from a little earlier, that what I had meant was true." But Swann, who apparently recognizes that the narrator is referring to Charlus's homosexuality, denies it, "as if I had proffered an absurdity." He characterizes Charlus as "sentimental" and says that "because he never goes very far with women, that's given a sort of credibility to the nonsensical rumors you want to talk about." 

But as far as the scene with the Prince de Guermantes is concerned, the truth turns out to be very different from the rumors the narrator has heard. Swann says that the Prince was apologizing for being anti-Dreyfus, and had said to Swann, "I shall tell you frankly that the idea that in all this an innocent man might have suffered the most ignominious of punishments had never crossed my mind. ... I'm from a family of soldiers, I refused to believe that officers could be wrong." Moreover, the Prince has "had masses said ... for Dreyfus, for his unfortunate wife, and his children." 

The Duc interrupts the conversation with Swann to say that the Princesse had invited the Duchesse to stay for supper with five or six others, but that she had had to decline because of a prior engagement. The narrator was invited to take her place. But he, too, declines because of his appointment with Albertine. 

Swann resumes his account of the conversation with the Prince to report that the Princesse, too, had been converted, even before the Prince, to Dreyfusism. "Swann now found those who were of his opinion to be uniformly intelligent, his old friend the Prince de Guermantes and my schoolmate Bloch, whom he had hitherto kept at arm's length but whom he invited to lunch." He concludes their conversation by inviting the narrator to come see Gilberte. The narrator promises to write her a letter. And when the narrator asks about his health, he says, 
"I confess it would be very irritating to die before the end of the Dreyfus Affair. Those scum have more than one trick up their sleeves. I don't doubt they'll be beaten in the end, but they're very influential, they've got support everywhere. Just when it's going best, everything gives way. I'd like to live long enough to see Dreyfus rehabilitated and Picquart a colonel."
(Translator John Sturrock's note indicates that Dreyfus was rehabilitated in 1906 and Picquart became a general and minister of war.) 

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